I suppose you could say that the Summer Palace, the $200 million estate that Logan Roy owns and barely uses, is a representative symbol for the entire Roy family. The place is opulent as fuck, right on the water and surrounded by moors and overgrown lushness. The food spread the staff is preparing has to cost thousands of dollars: T-bone steaks wrapped in wax paper, fresh lobsters arriving in Styrofoam boxes, fruit and vegetables and caviar and shrimp.
And, naturally, the entire occasion goes to shit. The place is permeated by a god-awful stink no one can escape. The smell gets into everything. No candle can cover it. And so when that “bag of raccoons” (was it … really a bag of raccoons? Or just one rotting raccoon? I could not tell!) falls out of the chimney, covered in maggots, that’s what is going on with the Roys. They’re decaying from the inside out, and it all starts with Logan, the fiery heart of them all, a man so obsessed with securing his own legacy that he doesn’t care about whom he destroys along the way. If they’re his children? Oh, well.
That ruthlessness is what drives season two premiere “The Summer Palace” forward: It’s only a couple of days after Shiv’s wedding in Scotland, and after Kendall backed down from his role in an attempted hostile takeover of Waystar Royco. Stewy (Arian Moayed, who is Iranian and very hot, you’re welcome for my people) and Sandy (Parker Sawyers) are furious, and have no idea why Kendall stepped away. Kendall’s siblings can’t figure it out, either: What changed?
None of them know what we do: That Kendall essentially helped cause the death of that caterer, or at least, certainly didn’t try to save him after the accident. With that blackmail in hand, Logan and Marcia are asking (forcing, really) Kendall to what they want, which is talk shit about the Stewy/Sandy deal to the media. Kendall’s “I saw their plan. Dad’s plan was better” is a recurring theme throughout this episode, and it underlines what we already knew about the assumed heir apparent of the Logan family: He is desperate to be loved and horrendously weak because of it. Sure, Kendall pulls off the line on TV, earning Logan’s “Ladies and gentlemen, the first fucking thing my son’s ever done right in his life.” But as Kendall continues to repeat it, first to Shiv and Roman and then to Stewy, it’s more and more hollow each time. Consider Kendall’s face when Marcia leans in to kiss him, when she tells him that these trials and tribulations will make him a better man. Kendall’s not there anymore. Kendall is a shell.
With Kendall securely by Logan’s side, the question now becomes what to do with Waystar Royco, and whether the family should hold onto the company or sell is the focus of the family trip to the Summer Palace. (I loved Brian Cox’ delivery of “Obviously I have obligations to the shareholders to seriously consider it, ha ha.”) Shiv and Tom leave their honeymoon—it seemed like all they were doing on the yacht was hanging out in the bedroom, playing on their tablets, anyway—while Roman and Gerri get pulled away from meetings in Japan after the rocket explosion. Connor and Willa were doing, I don’t know, whatever shit in the desert they’re always doing. But when all the kids get into that room, where Logan is now serving delivery pizza because he ordered all the luxurious food be thrown out after the stink, none of them wants to be honest with their dad. None of them wants to come forward about how to proceed with Waystar Royco. “I fucking love money, but I’m really scared of you,” Roman offers, and so it seems like Logan won’t get any legitimate advice or opinions from anyone.
But of course that’s not the case, because Shiv is here, and Shiv—furious that her wedding and honeymoon have both been “ruined” by Kendall and the drama surrounding Waystar Royco, not the revelation to Tom that she had been cheating on him with Nate and doesn’t necessarily believe in monogamy—is out of fucks to give. So when she gets her alone time with Logan, she lays into him, saying simultaneously that she hasn’t really thought about the future of the company but also that they should cut news and indie movies (oh no, my two favorite things!) and focus on expanding their theme parks internationally and adding more cruise offerings. Her response is so detailed and so angry that it’s clear Shiv has thought about this for a long time, and when Logan agreed to name her his successor after all the drama with the attempted takeover blows over? Whew! I was both ecstatic for Shiv and wary of Logan, and then also conflicted for being excited for Shiv securing her father’s approval because everything she’s done so far has been to remove herself from the Roys. The swiftness with which she agrees to come back in! Michael Corleone would nod empathetically along with her decision.
So, a few things to watch moving forward:
- Does Logan actually believe in Shiv, or is this another ploy to aim his children at each other?
- Will Shiv tell Tom about this news? Because she didn’t in this episode, and again, y’all are married.
- Is Kendall going to keep using? We see him ask Karolina and Cousin Greg to secure drugs for him, and obviously, his reaction to Cousin Greg’s shitty park cocaine was stellar. But also, how much does being in Logan’s pocket continue to derail Kendall?
- I remain very terrified that Connor will seriously launch a presidential bid. Seriously. Mortified.
- Logan decides to fight Stewy and Sandy by the end of the episode, and names Kendall and Roman co-COOs. LOL at the shitshow that lays ahead of us.
ODDS AND ENDS
+ Here are some of the insults lobbied against Kendall this episode: “Mr. Potato Head,” “plastic adversary,” “double agent,” “fuck bag,” “sex robot for Dad to fuck,” “an old beaten dog,” “pathetic fucking narcissist,” and “fucking prick.” But my favorite comes from Stewy: “Fuck you, you pusillanimous piece of fucking fools gold. Fucking silver spoon fucking asshole.” Go off, my man!
+ Shiv’s haircut is exceptional, and I am assuming given the timeline provided that she got it, like, a day after the wedding?
+ In case you wanted to see the kind of awful Fox News-like shit ATN is pumping out, the opening credits (which are slightly tweaked to include more modern shots, if you noticed) include one of their headlines: “Exclusive story: Gender fluid illegals may be entering the country ‘twice.’” God fucking dammit, this shit is too real!
+ The hostile takeover’s PR team knows so much about Logan, from what medications he’s on to the incident where he urinated on the floor of an office to his hitting Kendall’s son. Damn, Kendall, did not hold anything back.
+ Some great Marcia moments this episode, from when she asks Kendall whether there were “no accidents” on the way to the Summer Palace (that was intentional phrasing, right?) to when she scoffs at Logan, “What, I have to dance for the daddy, too?”
+ I loved the moment when Shiv and Roman at the shore, where she tries to genuinely, I think, tell him something nice, and he rejects it fully (“You’re such a fucking bitch”), and then minutes later, when it seems like Kendall tries to legitimately apologize to Shiv about using her wedding for the hostile takeover, and she responds, “How dare you apologize to me.” That was a good mirroring of sibling dynamics.
+ Of course, Connor is trying to buy Napoleon’s penis. Of fucking course.
+ First, do we think Shiv has seen Call Me By Your Name? How else to explain her “You gotta eat the peach, baby!” line to Tom? And, I also love that she secures him the job of Chair of Global Broadcast News for ATN … minutes after she tells Logan that she thinks Waystar Royco should get out of the news business. Shiv is ice fucking cold.
See you next week! When does Holly Hunter show up? I NEED TO KNOW.
Image sources (in order of posting): HBO Media Relations, HBO Media Relations, HBO Media Relations, HBO Media Relations